Dealing with ethical dilemmas | Law

Dealing with ethical dilemmas

Research shows that many law students become distressed when they encounter serious ethical dilemmas. Fresh from school and full of idealism, many law students are disheartened to discover that justice and the law are not necessarily the same thing. Having said this, at UNSW Law, we take the view that working towards making law and justice the same is a useful and practical goal for law students and lawyers.  That is part of the reason we have such a strong emphasis on social justice and human rights at this law school.

Ethical dilemmas are an obvious aspect of legal professional practice, which is one reason why the subject Lawyers, Ethics and Justice is so vital. However, ethical dilemmas may arise in any part of life, and developing a strong sense of your own values and beliefs will put you in good stead for any challenges ahead.

In law studies, one of the earliest ethical issues you might encounter as a student is that of plagiarism. Plagiarism is taking someone else’s academic work and presenting it as your own. It is therefore a type of theft or stealing. See the section on the UNSW website on plagiarism, why plagiarism is academic misconduct and note the seriousness with which the University views this.

When you spend time at Kingsford Legal Centre you may also encounter some ethical dilemmas in dealing with clients. Issues might arise concerning conflicts of interest, doing your best for a client even if you don’t like them.

Ethical issues in professional practice

Most people are familiar with some of the ethical issues which arise in professional practice.  The most obvious example people are familiar with is representing clients who are guilty. Other examples include giving advice which allows people to get around the law. Click here for some further reading on this topic.